What Dog Breeds Have Weepy Eyes?

by Betty Lewis
The pigment in a dog's tears easily stains a light-colored dog's fur.

The pigment in a dog's tears easily stains a light-colored dog's fur.

Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

Though your pup may be happy, he may not be able to control his weepy ways. There are different reasons a dog may have weepy eyes, and a few breeds are a little more prone to eye discharge. Any dog can have tear stains; washing Buddy's face regularly will wipe those stains away.

Epiphora

There's a name for all those those tears Buddy's been shedding: epiphora. Formally referred to as "watery ocular discharge," excess tears is a common issue for pet owners. If your pooch has excess tears running down his face, over time, they'll stain his fur to a reddish-brown color. Sometimes it's hard to notice the stains on a dog with a dark face, but dark-colored dogs experience epiphora as often as their fair relatives. Over time, chronic excess tearing can lead to skin irritation, odor and infection.

Weepy Breeds

Brachycephalic is not a word you see or hear much, but if you break it down to its Greek roots, you'll understand: "brachy" means short and "cephalic" means head. If Buddy's a pooch with a short or pushed in face, he's vulnerable to epiphora. Breeds in this class include shih tzu, Pekingese, boxer, pug, Boston terrier and bulldog. These dogs have shallow eye sockets or hair growth in the skin folds around their eyes, which makes tear drainage a problem. Bichon frise, Maltese and poodles have the same issues, and poodles and cocker spaniels are more prone to blocked tear ducts than other breeds.

Why The Tears

Buddy doesn't have to be of a breed that's vulnerable to weepy eyes to have them. There are two reasons a dog may have weepy eyes: irritation and poor tear drainage. Allergies, stray hairs or objects, environmental irritants such as smog or dust, and ingrown hairs all can cause irritation leading to epiphora. If that's Buddy's problem, the vet should be able to address the issue and put an end to the crying and the stains. However, sometimes the tears don't drain properly. In a healthy eye, when a dog's eye tears up, the tears will go through small "drain holes" in his eyes to his nasal passage down to his throat. Conditions interrupting this process include shallow eye sockets, eyelids that are turned inward, blocked tear drainage holes and hair growth around the eye, which redirects tears onto the face.

Controlling Tears

In some cases, surgery can help dry up those excess tears. A blocked duct can be flushed out and some eyelid problems can be corrected surgically to eliminate the irritation. If the irritation is due to something in the environment, minimizing Buddy's exposure to it will help. There's nothing to do for a dog with shallow eye sockets; after all, it's the way he's made. Your best option is to keep on top of his tear stains by gently washing around his eyes with a wet, warm paper towel. Your vet can recommend appropriate wipes to safely keep his face clean and tear-stain free.

Photo Credits

  • Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

About the Author

Betty Lewis is a writer and editor specializing in pet care, animals, careers and emergency management. She previously ran an animal shelter, where she also served as a kennel attendant and dog trainer. Lewis holds a bachelor's degree in journalism, an M.B.A. and a master's degree in professional studies.

Trending Dog Behavior Articles

Have a question? Get an answer from a Vet now!